Welcome to the next edition of Disney Extinct Attractions! My name is Cole Geryak, and I’ll be your dream master on today’s unofficial trip into imagination!
This week in the world of now, we have some sad news for current Disney parkgoers, but great news for the future of this blog! The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, Streets of America, and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show all permanently closed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to make room for the upcoming additions of Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, and Muppets Courtyard.
Two other smaller closures were Dream Along with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom and the Mad T Party at Disney’s California Adventure, both fan favorites, especially among Annual Passholders.
So with that being said about the present, it’s now time to travel back to when these attractions were just little sparks in Figments of Imagineers’ Imaginations.
The Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (EPCOT) opened at the Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1982. The park had two main areas, Future World and World Showcase, with both of them being split into different pavilions. While World Showcase was comprised of areas representing different countries from around the world, Future World was divided a little differently with pavilions based off the Land, the Sea, Energy, and Imagination. Wait, Imagination you say?
Yes Imagination! When Epcot first opened, the Imagination pavilion was actually relatively underwhelming as it only housed a short film entitled Magic Journeys (which will be discussed in some in the future, don’t worry fans of the film!). Audiences didn’t start flocking to the area until March 5, 1983 with the pavilion being renamed The Journey into Imagination pavilion and the addition of the attraction Journey into Imagination (I know, real clever for an area all about creativity!).
Journey into Imagination focused on the adventures of Dreamfinder and Figment as they emptied all the ideas they had collected in their Dream Mobile (pictured above) into the Dreamport, basically a storage area for ideas.
Guests went on a journey through this Dreamport and through areas based on Art, Literature, the Performing Arts, and Science. All throughout, Dreamfinder and Figment acted as guides showing how all of these wonders combined to form Imagination. That’s all I’m going to go into about the story because, as usual, there is a ride-through, which you can watch here. The quality is not the greatest, and it’s really hard to hear, but it is still a really interesting attraction to watch, especially if you never got to ride the first version of the attraction!
One of the reasons that the attraction is so visually beautiful is because it had the great mind of Disney Legend Tony Baxter (pictured left) behind it. Baxter is one of the most well-known Imagineers, with a big hand in some little projects like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Indiana Jones Adventure to name a few! But Baxter wasn’t the only Disney Legend with an impact, as the Sherman Brothers wrote the theme of the attraction called “One Little Spark.” The song’s very catchy tune will almost definitely get stuck in your head for the next hour! It also inspired the title Disney Legend Marty Sklar’s second book, the one referenced in the clues from the last post, showing how much that song really represents the Imagineering method.
Speaking of “One Little Spark” and its influence on Sklar, this attraction probably best encompasses the Imagineers’ core message, that everything comes out of creativity, and everything is possible if you simply follow your dreams. This message shines through in every single attraction that Disney creates and truly represents what Walt was trying to accomplish with the Happiest Place on Earth.
With that in mind, the Imagineers used their imagination when thinking about how to show a large amount of guests the same scene at the same time, but then proceeding to spread them out throughout the ride.
The big circle in the middle of the picture was a giant turntable that allowed guests to view a two minute scene of Figment and Dreamfinder simultaneously, while regulating the loading and unloading, so that guests were never stuck without something going on around them. The method helped increase the capacity of the ride, while also being really innovative, so I am a bit surprised that it was not really worked into many future Disney dark rides.
While that part of the attraction was really interesting, the real breakout star of Journey into Imagination was Figment. Disney fans quickly became enamored with the creature with “two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer,” and a “royal purple pigment.” A big part of his popularity has to lie in the fact that Epcot is not as kid-friendly of a park as other Disney parks, especially when the park first opened. Most everything was really centered around innovation and countries of the world, generally not things that kids find as interesting as Mickey Mouse and Peter Pan. Figment filled that market gap and became the park’s unofficial mascot. Everyone went crazy for him, and that love continues to this day as you can see a true Figment fan below!
All of this love could not save the original attraction, however, as it closed on October 10, 1998 to transform into Journey into YOUR Imagination. This attraction was hated almost immediately upon its opening on October 1, 1999 (Epcot’s 17th Birthday!), because it completely revamped the attraction to focus on the world of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, while also taking out Dreamfinder completely and reducing Figment to a minor role.
I have a lot of respect for Disney and generally think that they make sound decisions about the removal and addition of attractions, but I have no clue what they were thinking here! They took a ride that was pretty universally enjoyed, with a character who was the unofficial mascot of the park and changed it to make it shorter and focus on a property where the output was becoming more and more stale with audiences and reduce everyone’s favorite character to a mere cameo! It honestly astounds me that someone thought that that was a smart idea.
That rant aside, I really did not think that the attraction was as bad as everyone said it was! Instead of focusing on the Dreamport, guests are now transported on a tour of the Imagination Institute featured in the attraction Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Guests now saw different rooms based on Sound, Illusion, Color, and Connections. It is definitely not as good as the original attraction, but it does have its moments throughout. Plus, Eric Idle serves as your tour guide!
If you are interested in checking out the attraction for yourself, you can find it right here. Interestingly, they completely scrapped the use of the turntable for the second iteration of the attraction. The entire ride as a whole is much shorter because they moved ImageWorks (an interactive area geared towards fostering the imagination) from the second floor of the building to the exit of the ride on the first floor.
The main reason people hated the attraction, though, was the absence of Dreamfinder and the extremely reduced role of Figment. These characters really made the original attraction the classic it was, but they seemed to be persona non grata within Journey 2.0. However, the Imagineers listened to the fans and closed Journey into YOUR Imagination on October 8, 2001, barely two years after it had opened. The attraction was reimagined yet again with Journey into Imagination with Figment opening on June 2, 2002 and remaining there to the present.
Alas, this is a blog about former Disney attractions, so since we are back in the year
1985 2016, that means our time is coming to an end. But in case you wondering Figment did return (though not in a way that many would have hoped for and without his pal Dreamfinder).
Now that you know all about the Journeys, it’s time for a little teaser about what to expect next post.
1. This attraction’s track still exists in certain places within the park.
2. This attraction was NOT an opening day attraction in its park.
3. This attraction had multiple versions before completely closing.
So that really does bring us to a close. As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any attractions that you would like to see me write about. Also be sure to join the Facebook group if you liked what you read and want to stay updated on when future posts come out!
Have a magical day!